The Plot: Cathy Brown is your run of the mill every day college girl. She has her boyfriend, she has her friends and she likes to stay in touch with fashion! She and her friends all like to buy and wear wigs when they go out and recently the girls have heard about the very best little wig shop in town! The store is run by an elderly woman who lives with her stuffed pet jaguar and her son Rodney, but what no one else in town realizes is that the wigs are made from the real hair of several co-ed girls who have went missing recently! Cathy, who is inquisitive by nature, decides that she wants to track down the culprits responsible for the disappearance of these girls – much to the chagrin of her boyfriend. As Cathy draws closer to Rodney and his crazy mother, the stakes grow higher and it may very well be her life on the line!

The Review
Herschell Gordon Lewis divides audiences. That’s what he does and he has been doing it ever since Blood Feast, which gives him fifty years worth of experience in the art at this point. If you are unfamiliar with the man or his work, I suppose the quickest description for him would be: he is a filmmaker who thrived in the 60’s making drive-in movies that featured explicit gore. He is often referred to as “the godfather of gore”, a name that is equally bestowed upon Lucio Fulci, and there is no getting past the fact that H.G. Lewis was a tremendous pioneer in terms of on-screen violence. However, my problem with the man is that he did not make good movies. No matter how you want to twist it or what manner of respect you have for Lewis, his movies were by and large pretty awful. Ed Wood laid down his immortal stamp in the b-movie history books, and before Lloyd Kaufman came along and made a career out of taking awful cinema and making it ‘art’, there was H.G. Lewis to carry the torch. A filmmaker with an incredibly weak hand in narrative, visual pastiche or in controlling his actors, he made up for it with his fans by having an excellent eye for gory special effects. He certainly has his audience and fans who simply crow on about his work, but I have never really felt that kind of affection. Indeed, there have only been one or possibly two titles from his filmography that I have even “liked”. I can’t explain why I keep coming back to his work, but here I am once more.

What did I think about Gruesome Twosome? That is a good question. The answer is actually pretty easy: its awful. End of review… who really needs much more than that for a movie like this? Easily one of the worst films I have seen from Lewis, Gruesome Twosome shows all of his worst traits in dominating fashion. First and foremost, I’ll go over what completely and utterly killed this movie: the padding. Some films throw in superfluous content every now and then to get their movie up to full length, even some good films are guilty of this act. It’s nothing new to cinema, especially within the independent horror film world. Lewis, who has made some tedious and boring movies in the past, takes forty minutes worth of content and somehow pads it down so heavily that he stretches the movie out for a tad longer than seventy minutes. Having such a short running time as it is, it would almost be impossible to make the movie feel exceptionally long, but Lewis nearly accomplishes that feat in the levels of boredom that attack the viewer.

The film actually opens up with a elongated sequence that features two mannequin heads talking to one another about… well, nothing really. Lewis tries to tie it in with the rest of the picture as if one of these mannequins actually belonged to one of our leading ladies, but that never really factors into the story. The scene ultimately serves no real purpose and gives us the first indication of how poor the tacked-on content is going to be. The movie doesn’t stop there! There is a sequence where Cathy follows the local weirdo Mr. Spinsen home, as she believes he is the killer, but we are forced to endure every single frame that Lewis must have shot for this “cat and mouse” chase game. We spend five minutes on this sequence easily and when you consider that this is only a 72 minute movie, that means nearly seven percent of the entire movie is focused on this throwaway sequence! Finally, I’ll mention the scene where Cathy and her boyfriend go to the drive-in and Lewis splices in a incredibly long bit of “comedy” that focuses on two characters shot entirely from the neck down. The male character is named Terrance and we watch as his girlfriend talks in voiceover narration about how much she loves him, but all Terrance wants to do is eat potato chips in graphic close up detail. What does this have to do with anything that has happened in the movie? Nothing. The scene is apparently taking place at a restaurant of some sort, so it isn’t even at the drive-in where Cathy and her boyfriend are! Do we ever get to meet Terrance or find out why he ignores his girlfriend? Nope, the movie doesn’t even try! Just more stuff that shouldn’t even exist!

Cathy is ostensibly the only “likable” character throughout the entire movie. Not because of any written depth or the performance of our lead actress, but simply because she is such a vanilla bland amateur-sleuth that at least we as the audience shouldn’t feel so annoyed with her. Her boyfriend however comes across as a selfish jerk throughout the majority of the movie. He reacts violently to any mention of Cathy’s obsession with these missing girls and instead of simply hearing her out, he goes so far over the top that he is out of the stadium and heading towards the nearest star. The acting that Herschell Gordon Lewis inspired has been mimicked but never quite duplicated. The over the top theatrical idiocy that Lewis mastered has been seen in the work of John Waters and Lloyd Kaufman, but within Lewis’ work you really get the feeling that the cast is trying as hard as they possibly can and Lewis is likely goading them into over-acting even further. Gruesome Twosome has that certain level of acting that only Lewis could inspire, with the cast being full of those either trying to emote far too much or with those who are simply reading lines of dialogue off of cards. The character of Rodney, who has the mind of a child but the killing habits of a fully grown man, is probably the furthest from subtle. Annoying but still humorous, he carries the only performance even worth mentioning.

The Conclusion
The gore effects are ultimately the only reason to watch the movie. There is a pretty nice scalping scene near the intro and another bit later on with Rodney rooting around in some poor girl’s stomach and pulling out one of her kidneys (or a liver?). The gore is nasty and although it also looks pretty fake at times (with actresses obviously blinking after they are supposed to be dead), it still remains fun. I can’t say I liked The Gruesome Twosome, but it certainly has elements that I am sure would draw in some viewers. Heck, the gore drew me in, what can I say! I give the movie a two out of five. It was danger close to getting the dreaded 1, but I figure it has two or three interesting aspects of it that make it worth seeing for gorehounds. I would say avoid it unless you’re a diehard gore or H.G. Lewis fan!

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